May Day in Moscow. Criticism of government allowed

Today Russia celebrates the Day of Spring and Labor. As it was traditional in the Soviet era, this time once again mass demonstrations were organized in Russia. Since the breakup of the USSR such demonstrations are held under slogans criticizing the social economic line of the government.

The May Day celebration is not an exception this time as well. As the May weather in Moscow is sunny and warm, party and trade union leaders succeed with bringing their followers in the streets. Today supporters of two rival organizations, Trade Unions and Communist Party, have gone into the Moscow streets. Demonstrators from the United Russia party joined the Trade Unions (or, may be it is better to say the Trade Unions joined the party’s demonstrators), members of the Moscow Government and the City Duma were among them. The meeting was held in the Red Square (this is for the first time over the past ten years) and concluded, as traditionally, with a concert. According to provisional estimates, up to 140,000 people have taken part in the Trade Unions’ meeting. It is strange, but lots of anti-governmental slogans could be seen in the columns of the United Russia party, names of German Gref, Mikhail Kasyanov, Alexander Pochinok and Anatoly Chubais were mostly mentioned in the slogans. The demonstrators demanded to put an end to arbitrariness of the officialdom, clear off the debt to budgetary workers. It is funny that United Russia’s slogans touched upon arbitrariness of officialdom, as there are many officials in the party itself. It was not really very difficult for the Trade Unions and United Russia to gather so many people for the demonstration. An old proven method of the Soviet era was used: special orders for people to come to the demonstrations were sent to organizations and enterprises that were to be obligatory observed. However, for some demonstrators it was a real pleasure to go into the streets in such warm weather.

One more demonstration was organized by the Communist Party. The day before, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov promised, up to 110,000 followers of the party would go into the streets. As it was expected, the reality disproved the forecast. Not more than 20,000 people have taken part in the Communist meeting in Moscow, as reported by police. The Communist Party itself says the number of demonstrators made up about 100,000 people. Quite natural, much more criticism to work of the Government could be heard at the Communist meeting. Criticism of the Communists even touched upon the Russian President. But to tell the truth, people have already got really very tired of criticism to “a criminal policy of the anti-national regime” over the past years. The Communist meeting was rather quiet. Supporters to Viktor Anpilov, member of the Working Russia party, and some young hooligans, who threw smoke cartridges, tried to liven up the demonstration. Quite evident, those were some leftist radicals, who were then caught by police.

On the whole, the May Day meetings were rather quiet in Moscow. And no wonder, as the number of police guards in the streets was great. Nothing extraordinary occurred on this day.

The Russian Government, so strictly criticized by the demonstrators, have gone for a leave starting with May 1.

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

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Translated by Maria Gousseva

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